Thursday, July 14, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, July 14, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the bombings continue, talk of even more US troops headed to Iraq, Bernie's betrayal of his supporters, and much more.

Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Bomber, attack, ground-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, five strikes struck an ISIL beddown location, an ISIL staging area, two ISIL weapons caches and an ISIL weapons storage facility.

-- Near Qaim, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL staging area.

-- Near Beiji, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun.

-- Near Haditha, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL bunker, four ISIL tents and an ISIL petroleum, oil and lubricant site.

-- Near Hit, a strike destroyed an ISIL artillery piece.

-- Near Kisik, two strikes destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Mosul, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

-- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL checkpoint and an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Ramadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Rawah, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

Monday, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Baghdad.  Paul D. Shinkman (US NEWS & WORLD REPORTS) notes the visit:

Along the way, Carter has solidified through promises and plans what most Americans have feared since the rise of the Islamic State group and the resurgence of Taliban aggression, both amid political upheaval throughout the region: that President Barack Obama cannot follow through on his campaign pledges to end U.S. wars in the Middle East. 
In truth, these conflicts are ramping up in intensity. And from Carter's perspective, there's no immediate end in sight to America's participation.

Iraq, for example, has witnessed the continual slow trickle of U.S. advisers and special operations troops back into training bases and combat operations. Carter's announcement this week in Baghdad that the U.S. will deploy 560 additional troops raises the total number of American forces in the country to 4,657. 

The Iraq War is not ending.

Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 on the promise that he would end it within 16 months of taking office.

That did not happen.

The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE points out, "Mr. Obama, in principle, withdrew all American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, as President George W. Bush had pledged and he had affirmed in his 2008 campaign his intention to do. So what, exactly, is going on now? Should it be called mission re-creep? Or just stupid, unnecessarily risky and expensive?"

The next president will preside over the Iraq War.  If that president is Hillary Clinton, it's doubtful the Iraq War will end anytime soon.  This week, Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders gave up his bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.  Instead, the senator announced he was backing War Hawk Hillary.

Activist Gloria La Riva is the presidential nominee of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and she responds to Bernie's move below:

Hillary Clinton was a champion of the Iraq invasion. One million Iraqis died as did thousands of U.S. service members. She demanded the bombing of Libya in 2011 and now Libya, like Iraq, is in fragments. She is currently leading a militant struggle to criminalize the BDS movement that stands in solidarity with Palestinian people. The leading Republican neoconservative imperialist “experts” are supporting Clinton in 2016 and raising money for her campaign. You cannot support an imperialist war hawk and have a political revolution at the same time.
Our campaign stands with those people in the Bernie Sanders movement who do not agree with the idea of supporting Hillary Clinton. Even though I am running an independent socialist campaign for president I was hoping that Sanders would win the Democratic nomination. I urged registered Democrats to vote for Sanders in the closed primaries in the critical states of New York and California. I knew how much the Democratic establishment and Wall Streets billionaire bankers were trying to crush Bernie in their support for Clinton.
Now Bernie Sanders has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton, just weeks away from the the convention in Philadelphia. Those who have declared themselves “Bernie or Bust” and “Never Hillary” now face intense pressure to unite behind Clinton. It is unfortunate that Sanders himself felt that pressure. The whole impetus and attraction of the Sanders campaign was to fight the 1% and the status quo, of which Clinton is the complete embodiment and preferred candidate!
In his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, Bernie extolled Hillary Clinton’s virtues in addition to arguing that people must unite to stop Trump. Yes, Trump is an odious bigot, racist and misogynist and we should continue to organize a mass movement against him. But every four years the “progressives” are told to prevent the greater evil by supporting the corrupt capitalist politicians who use the Democratic Party branding and then implement the same anti-people policies as the Republicans once they are elected. This is precisely why one of every two people in this country now lives in or near poverty. We need a real political revolution against both ruling class political parties.
I urge Sanders’ supporters to not only vote socialist but to get involved with our socialist campaign, and to help build a powerful grassroots people’s movement to fight the billionaire class before and after the elections.
The entire rigged primary process has demonstrated the utter bankruptcy of the Democratic Party as a vehicle for real social change.

Only the people organized and fighting together can truly make history. Millions of people, especially young people, now look to socialism as an alternative to the capitalist system that is robbing them of a future.

Glen Ford (BLACK AGENDA REPORT) also reacted to Bernie's warm embrace of Hillary:

Bernie Sanders this Tuesday consummated his sheepdog agreement with the Democratic Party, delivering a formal endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president.  The capitulation script that Sanders read in New Hampshire, with the cackling Banshee of War at his side, could have been written back in the spring of last year, when he formally threw his hat into the race. From the very start, Sanders was firm in his allegiance to the Democratic wing of the corporate duopoly, and any indications to the contrary were purely products of his supporters wishful imaginations.
Bernie Sanders did not lie to his followers; they deceived themselves, just as most of them – the ones that were old enough – had fooled themselves into believing that Barack Obama was a peace candidate and a political progressive back in 2008, although Obama’s actual record and policy pronouncements showed him clearly to be a corporate imperialist warmonger – a political twin of his principal primary election opponent, Hillary Clinton and her philandering, huckster husband.

Back then, phony leftists like Bill Fletcher and Tom Hayden swore on their mothers’ honor that Obama’s campaign was really a people’s movement, a prelude to revolution – as if the Democrats, a militarist corporate political party, could give birth to an anti-corporate, anti-militarist people’s revolution.

Gary Leupp (COUNTERPUNCH) offers:

The worst disservice Sanders has done to his supporters, other than to lead them on a wild goose chase for real change, is to virtually ignore his rival’s vaunted “experience.” He need not have mentioned Hillary Clinton’s Senate record, since there was nothing there; her stint as law-maker was merely intended to position her for a run for the presidency, according to the family plan. But there was a lot in her record as Secretary of State.
As she recounts in her memoir, she wanted a heftier “surge” in Afghanistan than Obama was prepared to order. Anyone paying attention knows that the entire military mission in that broken country has been a dismal failure producing blow-back on a mind-boggling scale, even as the Taliban has become stronger, and controls more territory, than at any time since its toppling in 2001-2002.

Hillary wanted to impose regime change on Syria in 2011, by stepping up assistance to armed groups whom (again) anyone paying attention knows are in cahoots with al-Nusra (which is to say, al-Qaeda). In an email dated Nov. 30, 2015, she states her reason: “The best way to help Israel…is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.”

Patrick Martin (WSWS) observes, "In his remarks Tuesday in New Hampshire, Sanders declared that his campaign would continue, in the form of an all-out effort to elect Hillary Clinton president and elect Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. To call such an outcome a 'political revolution' is, to say the least, a cynical fraud."

Bernie's betrayal leaves many wondering who to vote for.

Along with Gloria La Riva, the alternatives include Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

Gary Johnson is the presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party.

If joining Sen. Sanders in the Clinton Establishment isn't a good fit, there IS another option...

Jill Stein is the front runner for the Green Party's presidential nomination.

Top Sanders supporter Cornel West endorses Jill Stein:

So honored to have Dr. Cornel West's support!

glenn asks a good question:

How can third-party candidates be excluded from the debates when the 2 leading ones have a combined 15% in polls?


jill stein (presumed green party presidential candidate) and gary johnson (libertarian presidential candidates) belong in the debates.

is this america or not?

if it's america, open up the debates.

democracy requires openess.

open up the debates.

that should be the rallying cry: open up the debates.

Returning to the topic of Ash Carter's visit to Baghdad, dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Today, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited Iraq and declared, "And I'm pleased to report today in that connection that we agreed for the United States to bolster the Iraqi efforts to isolate and pressure Mosul by deploying 560 additional troops in support of the ISF and especially at the Qayyarah West airfield."
[. . .]
Dan Lamothe and Loveday Morris (WASHINGTON POST) explain, "The decision to deploy more service members will elevate the number of U.S. troops the Pentagon counts in Iraq to 4,647. Unofficially, that figure is probably closer to 6,000 when considering a variety of American troops who deploy on temporary assignments that the Pentagon does not include in its official tally."

Close to 6,000 -- before you count the US contractors.

Close to 6,000 -- and more will likely be added.  Phil Stewart (REUTERS) notes:

The U.S. military expects to seek additional troops in Iraq, even beyond the hundreds announced this week, as the campaign against the Islamic State advances, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command told Reuters.

"As we continue on the mission, I think there will be some additional troops that we will ask to bring in," U.S. Army General Joseph Votel said in an interview in Baghdad on Thursday, without disclosing a number.

Thomas Gaist (WSWS) summarizes the Iraq War:

The seizure of large areas of Iraq by ISIS-led Sunni insurgents and the threatened collapse of the Baghdad government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi have forced the Obama administration to authorize a slow-motion reinvasion of the country, as the only way to maintain Washington’s hold over the highly strategic country. Having reduced the official troop presence to barely 100 after declaring the war “over” in 2011, President Obama now routinely signs off on new deployments of hundreds more US troops, destined to oversee, guide and participate in large-scale warfare, across Iraq.
Prime Minister Abadi, touted as a stalwart US ally upon his installation as prime minister in September 2014, in contrast to the more Iran-aligned Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (2006-2014), has presided over a constantly deepening crisis of the Iraqi state. Already reeling from the takeover of large areas of northern and western Iraq by insurgents, Abadi’s government was roughly shaken in early May, when the militarized central government compound in Baghdad was temporarily overrun by opposition protests organized by the Shia-based Sadrist movement.
The invasion of the fortress-like “Green Zone,” erected by the Pentagon to defend the neocolonial Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) installed by US forces after the 2003 invasion, has forced the Abadi government to impose new militarized check points and martial law measures throughout Baghdad. Just weeks after the Green Zone incident, Abadi made clear his commitment to the US neocolonial agenda in Iraq, proclaiming the “liberation” of Fallujah in late June from the center of the ruined city, while sporting the uniform of the Pentagon-controlled Iraqi Counter Terror Services.

The US ruling elite is determined to offset the political weakness of the Abadi government through a constantly growing military intervention, one that now includes thousands of combat troops and growing amounts of heavy weaponry.